The Salvation Army Now Takes Apple Pay and It's Rubbing People the Wrong Way

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Nov. 30 2023, Published 9:59 p.m. ET

Some things we associate with the holidays are fairly obvious. Certain drinks appear at coffee shops, houses are adorned with lights, there is hopefully a chill in the air, and Hallmark begins their holiday movies. I'm particularly fond of that last one as I very much enjoy a genre that I call idyllic porn. You'll never more adorable towns!

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Then there are things you've grown accustomed to, but don't realize how embedded they are until they suddenly disappear. Take the Salvation Army for example. I recall people dressed as Santa Claus, ringing a loud bell in front of various department stores. They were hard to miss, which was kind of the point. However, the Santas are being replaced by a simple Apple Pay option and some folks are rejecting this new reality.

Salvation Army donation bucket
Source: Getty Images
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Did the Salvation Army replace Santa Claus with Apple Pay?

According to their very own website, the "iconic Salvation Army red kettle campaign began in 1891 by Captain Joseph McFee, a Salvation Army officer who was looking for a way to cover the cost of the community Christmas meal." Inspired by the Simpson's pot, an iron pot where people could donate to help individuals in need, he used a similar container for Salvation Army donations.

The tradition continues to this day and every year around Christmas, the Salvation Army raises money to help feed families during the holiday. Things haven't changed much since then until a few years ago when the Santas who stood next to the buckets were swapped out for a digital pay option.

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Ms. Parkman, who goes by @msparkman829 on TikTok, saw one in the wild for the first time. She was somewhat shocked. "They won't miss out on that opportunity to get that money," she said in a video. To be fair, not a lot of people carry cash anymore. Plus, soliciting donations is what a nonprofit does.

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The Salvation Army has definitely been problematic, but it's not an indictment against them to provide more ways in which folks can help. She points out the lack of bell ringing. Personally, that's my favorite part. Those bells were so loud and when I was unable to donate, it felt as if they were the soundtrack to my shame.

Suddenly I'm Ebenezer Scrooge, and Jacob Marley is every single Santa Claus standing next to a Salvation Army bucket. Thankfully it never worked on me because everyone knows the best shame soundtrack is just your high school diary.

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The one thing I do take issue with is the fact that there are tiered options for donating, and the lowest begins at $5. From there you can either donate $10 or $20. It's unclear if you can adjust that. The best part about the old bucket was even if you just had change, they would take it.

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Maybe the Salvation Army was tired of counting coins. As someone who used to live in an apartment building with coin-operated washers and dryers, I can attest to the fact that wrangling change is a real hassle.

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Although Ms. Parkman seemingly noticed the Apple Pay donation option for the first time in November 2023, the truth is this has been happening for four years. I guess you can't fight progress.

In a press release dated Nov. 12, 2019, the Salvation Army said they were "making it easier for donors to give back during the Christmas season by making a gift online with Apple Pay or Google Pay at participating red kettles." I appreciate them throwing Google Pay into the mix for all of us Android users. We will not be shamed!

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